Get a free audiobook

The Story of Philosophy

The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers
Written by: Will Durant
Narrated by: Grover Gardner
Length: 19 hrs and 27 mins
5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

The product of 11 years of research, The Story of Philosophy is an endlessly inspiring and instructive chronicle of the world’s greatest thinkers, from Socrates to Santayana. Written with exacting and scrupulous scholarship, it was designed both to command the respect of educators and to capture the interest of the layman.

Durant lucidly describes the philosophical systems of such world-famous “monarchs of the mind” as Plato, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Spinoza, Kant, Voltaire, and Nietzsche. Along with their ideas, he offers their flesh-and-blood biographies, placing their thoughts within their own time and place and elucidating their influence on our modern intellectual heritage. This book is packed with wisdom and wit.

Will Durant (1885-1981) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He spent over 50 years writing his critically acclaimed 11-volume series The Story of Civilization. A champion of human-rights issues such as social reform and the brotherhood of man long before they were popular, he continues to educate and entertain readers and listeners worldwide through his writings.

©1926 Will Durant (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

“A delight.” ( New York Times)
“Easily the most engaging writer of Western intellectual history in the English language, Will Durant breathes life into philosophers and their ideas. He is colorful, witty, and above all, informative.” (Amazon.com review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
No reviews are available
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jeff
  • 2012-04-14

AN ALL TIME FAVORITE

I dont leave home without it. Its the only book that has permanent status on my Ipod. For me its that good. Will Durants amazing writing takes on philosophy, and gets read by Grover Gardner. That somehow creates a transcendent experience for me. Its become a kind of Lynus blanket. I just love it.

44 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ESK
  • 2013-01-25

Fantastic and insightful book

Solid listen and masterly narration! I particularly enjoyed the section on Spinoza.
The SoP gives an overview of the lives and works of the most renowned philosophers, and analyzes their ideas in terms of social, political, religious and psychological contexts.
The book is made up of the following chapters:
1. Plato (as well as analysis of Socrates’ life and teaching)
2. Aristotle
3. Francis Bacon
4. Baruch Spinoza (also reference to Descartes)
5. Voltaire
6. Immanuel Kant (a brief look at Locke, Rousseau and a note on Hegel)
7. Arthur Schopenhauer
8. Herbert Spencer (and Darwinism)
9. Friedrich Nietzsche (N. and Wagner)
10. Henri Bergson
11. Benedetto Croce
12. Bertrand Russell
13. George Santayana
14. William James
15. John Dewey
Here’s an inspiring quotation from the SoP. ‘Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art. It arises in hypothesis and flows into achievement. Philosophy is a hypothetical interpretation of the unknown or of the inexactly known ; it is the front trench in the siege of truth.’

71 of 73 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • M
  • 2011-05-23

As beautiful as it is informative

This is an outstanding history of philosophy. The writing is beautiful, even moving, and the narrator marvelous.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Gary
  • 2012-05-21

Benefits from because of its 1926 perspective

After reading this book, I feel like I'm a philosopher. Durant really knows how to engage the reader and make him feel smart. He gives enough biography and then summaries for each philosopher covered. The book really profits from the fact it was originally written in 1926 and I get to experience knowing the history that followed. He's such a good writer that the book stands up regardless of the unfolding history.

36 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Arthur
  • 2012-12-07

Beginners start here! This is the one you want!

I picked up this audiobook because I wanted to begin studying philosophy and I needed a starting point. I am not disappointed. Durant gave me the direction I was seeking and a lot more.

One of the most valuable things it provides is the context in which each philosopher wrote their philosophy. Durant shows how the time and place of each philosopher affected each work. He also highlights the influence of other philosophers in each work.The great works of philosophy weren't created in a vacuum.

I had never heard of Will Durant but as I listened I got the impression that whoever this guy was he really did his homework. How little did I know! Suffice to say that I believe he is qualified to write such an ambitious work. Look him up on Wikipedia if you are as ignorant as I.

And what a narration! I can't speak highly enough of the way this sometimes difficult work was tackled by Gardner. I don't know how he did it, it's like he wrote the book himself and was conveying his own thoughts on the complicated mind of Kant or Nietzsche.

If you don't know much about philosophy, you really can't go wrong with using this as a starting or reference point. I imagine even those with experience in the field will find Durant's insight beneficial.

I was greatly pleased to find William James included in the discussion, but was disappointed not to find more on Descartes, Hume, Locke, and others.

For reference, from wikipedia:

"Philosophers profiled are, in order: Plato, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Baruch Spinoza (with a section on Descartes), Voltaire (with a section on Rousseau), Immanuel Kant (with a section on Hegel), Arthur Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer, and Friedrich Nietzsche." Also Henri Bergson, Benedetto Croce, Bertrand Russell, George Santayana, William James, and John Dewey.

50 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anthony
  • 2011-10-14

Philosophy primer

I really like Will Durant's writting style. The book was interesting from start to finish. For me this was a great first book about the greater philosophers and provided ideas for further reading. I think Grover Gardner's narration was first rate and added to the listening pleasure.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • jeff
  • 2011-10-23

as good as it gets !!

take a fascinating topic and match it to a truly unique writer of matchless finesse and warranted worship and this little wonder is what you get.
I've read it twice in a row and know that this is the rarest of books, one that Ill read many times more. Im having a hard time deleting it from my Ipod.. lol . A really rare gem. 5.stars

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 2015-01-29

Excellent but Limited

This is early Durant and his depth and style improved in his later works. This volume is also quite selective including only a few of the most important or pivotal Philosophers and it was written in 1924 thus it does not cover later philosophers. I was more than a bit surprised by the little jump between Aristotle (300 BCE) and Francis Bacon (1600 CE). Nevertheless what is there is fantastic, I only wish there was more, much, much more.

I recommend reading this before Durant’s monumental History of Civilization series.

The narration was excellent.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • yesenia
  • 2012-07-03

Amazing work by Will Durant!

Where does The Story of Philosophy rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The rank I gave to this Audiobook is ranking among the highest, for me is a magnificent compression of Philosophical History.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

For me the most compelling aspect of the narrative was the objective and factual way that Durant used to create this great compression of Philosophical History.

What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

The performance was also good, well spoken and well emphasized with some dramatization added.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

In my case I love History and Philosophy, for me the hole book was a tidbit!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ramesh Adhikari
  • 2011-05-25

A treasure to a Superman

Though bias, the story of philosophy is a very good introduction to a beginner. It is very useful to anybody who wants to extend the basic understanding of how philosopher's ideas helped to shape human civilization. Narration is so good. It feels like I am listening my favorite music.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful